Despite the warnings that large gatherings increase the spread of the coronavirus, young people continue to party. From spring breakers to summer beachgoers, it appears that millennials and Gen Zers aren’t listening to the message.
In California, TikTok and YouTube celebrities recently hosted massive media parties with guests largely maskless, while the number of coronavirus cases escalated in that state.
Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti threatened to cut off water and power to those hosting illegal house parties. “While we have already closed all bars and nightclubs, these large house parties have essentially become nightclubs in the hills,” Garcetti said, according to Variety. “We will not act lightly, but we will act.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has pleaded with young Americans to take responsibility and follow safety guidelines so that they don’t spread the disease to vulnerable people.
According to Fox News, Fauci warned them that “a risk for you is not just isolated for you. You are innocently and inadvertently propagating the process of a pandemic.” He was referring to the large number of young Americans who do not take social distancing to heart and continue to meet up with friends.
The big questions is: “Why do so many young people ignore these warnings as more Americans under the age of 35 become infected with COVID-19?” Experts told Business Insider that one reason is that our brains don’t fully develop until our mid-20s. An immature brain has trouble making long-term decisions, relying more on the fight or flight response, so teens have trouble thinking about the repercussions of their actions in the long run and their possible impact on other people.
Young people also feel invincible, said Forrest Talley, a California-based clinical psychologist. He added that a recent study found they reject any information to the contrary.
So, when told not to gather in large groups, they feel confident that the advice does not apply to them. “Youth is not marked by risk aversion but rather by risk taking,” he told Business Insider.
Young people have a strong desire to be part of a group that bolsters their identity and self-esteem, said experts, so socialization becomes an essential part of their lives. Remaining home-bound shuts off this outlet and can even trigger a childlike reaction to rebel against the establishment and break the rules.
Psychiatrist Leela Magavi of Newport Beach, California, said that socializing is also a way young people cope with their fears and anxiety about the pandemic.
“Although many of them are well aware of the risks involved, they gather in large groups and engage in activities to distract themselves from feelings of helplessness and loneliness,” she told Business Insider. Ultimately, young people fear loneliness more than they fear illness or even death, said the experts.
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